Setting, spoilers, warnings
This is set a short time after Taking the Stone in early Season 2. No proper spoilers but references to events of Season 1 and early Season 2. As I already told ScorpSik, I loved the prompt and thought the ideas would flow..well, they didn’t!
Rated PG13 for some mild bad Earth language used.
Characters aren’t mine…I so wish they were and so on and so forth…but sadly they are not, I am just mistreating them a little but I promise to put them back the way I found them.
Profuse thanks to MarieYOTZ for being my beta on this!
Word Count: 2883
“We are frelled” John thought. “This time we are well and truly frelled! Our goose is kaput, cooked and digested ..that’s it, the end of the line…good evening and good night!” He was sitting in a corner of the stinky dank cell, straight on to the cold stone floor and against all odds given the situation he was in, all he could hear at the back of his mind was his grandmother telling his father at family picnics ‘Jack, never sit on the cold, damp ground, you will get haemorrhoids and you will know all about it then!’ He had only been a child but the idea of his father getting such a painful but funny condition had always made him giggle…today given the dren he had been put through and the even worse dren ahead, though he found it hard to even imagine why he should care, the memory of those words still made him shift and angle his body so that he was now leaning with one shoulder against the wall, most of his weight pressing down on his left hip rather than on his butt…he knew it was ridiculous but, hey, the entire frelling situation was!
The movement caused the small figure crouched at the other end of the cell to carefully and surreptitiously look up and check him out.
“What did I say to you, Buckwheat? DO NOT EVEN LOOK AT ME! I’m telling you I’m this close to strangling you!” John growled. His patience was stretched to the limits and his eyes sent daggers in the Hynerian’s direction, their meaning clear in pretty much every unspoken language in the universe ‘I dare you to say even one word, you little shit!’
Rygel sniffled, a small whimper escaping his throat quickly stifled when the blue intensity of John’s eyes conveyed the message loud and clear.
Crichton was being insufferable, acting all high and mighty towards him, a Dominar, ruler of over six hundred billion people, XVI in the line of his highly esteemed dynasty of Dominars, the greatest to ever rule over all of Hyneria and its innumerable satellite planets. He really should not abide being treated like this by such an inferior being, a human, a piece of dren who was here only because he, Rygel the XVI the Merciful , had taken pity over him a cycle ago and not only let him live but also let him stay on Moya with them. He should have let that big keedva of a Luxan get rid of him back then but no, while this imbecile was locked in the prison cell with the Peacekeeper female, Rygel had opened his big mouth and spoken in favour of preserving his life - granted in all honesty just to get the chance to assess whether this weird and ugly Sebacean looking alien could come in handy in his schemes and future plans - but, still, the lack of gratitude from this inferior creature was appalling!
Rygel hated to admit it but letting Crichton live had been a mistake, probably only the second one he had ever made in his long 300 cycles of enlightened and wise existence, the only other mistake of his life having been committed earlier that day and really the reason why they were now in this miserable place, their prospects dire to say the least…
EARLIER THAT SOLAR DAY
Everything that had led Rygel and John to that stinkhole we found them in, had started that morning on Moya when the crew had made a fateful decision.
Their supplies had been low for weekens and a stock refurnishing run was more than overdue, the only two major problems being that they had little or no currency and, unusually, many Peacekeeper units of various descriptions had been sighted in this part of the Uncharted Territories according to reports that had been intercepted by Pilot, who had diligently been monitoring radio traffic in the hopes of finding any indication of Talyn’s location. Scorpius was on the warpath and searches for the criminals who had destroyed his Gammak base were intensifying by the day.
Landing on an unknown commerce planet might mean trouble especially if desperately bartering for food and thus attracting unnecessary attention was in the cards. They were running short of items to exchange – the last of the weapons taken from the PK commando unit commanded by Larraq already exchanged for provisions on their last shopping expedition. Tempers had been fraying and stomachs rumbling loudly, especially the ones of Hynerian variety.
There being no point in postponing the inevitable, they had decided that they would take a chance at the next planet and send only two members of the crew to find some sustenance while, at the same time, trying to keep as low a profile as possible.
Arguments had of course broken out as to who should take the risk of going planet side – Aeryn had obviously expected to go and so had D’Argo, Rygel had abstained clearly not keen on taking any risks, Chiana had defiantly refused to be left behind claiming mind blowing boredom – she was still very much off sorts since Nerri’s life disk had stopped functioning. Zhaan had, as usual, abstained from a proper argument but had supported John when he had come up with the brilliant idea of drawing straws. Brilliant idea according to himself of course… the others had once again looked at him with various degrees of annoyance, spite, derision and impatience while he explained how on Earth drawing straws was the fairest way to settle a stalemate such as this and how the result was unarguably accepted by all with NO complaint and NO chance of appeal.
The others eventually had reluctantly agreed to this primitive method of settling the matter for no other reason than that the longer they stayed orbiting this planet, the more of a sitting target they became for the Peacekeeper units on the hunt.
Luck would have it that Rygel had pulled one of the two shorter pieces of electro-thermal tubing John had had to improvise with. The other one had been left in John’s right hand when all the others had taken their pick.
In spite of Rygel’s grumbling and moaning, a short time later they had boarded one of the pods, left Moya and landed close to the main commercial settlement of the planet in a busy area where crafts of various sizes and origins were parked - none of a PK military nature, or at least none that they could immediately see, John had noted with relief.
They had decided that splitting up would probably attract less attention, so before disembarking John had donned his Peacekeeper leathers hoping to be left alone or avoided by most if identified as one of the brutish members of the special forces that so terrified even these independent trading planets in the Uncharted Territories. Rygel had also surprisingly agreed that going separate ways would be the best way to deal with this. That by itself should have rung alarm bells with John - no complaints from Rygel could only mean trouble but his trusting nature had once again prevailed and the two had parted with the agreement of meeting back at the pod within two arns.
Less than an arn later, John had managed to secure some stale food cubes in exchange for a couple of Delvian trinkets of very little value that Zhaan had parted with for all of their sakes when two uniformed Sebacean- looking locals had flanked him, grabbed him and hit him hard on the back of the head when he tried to resist them. They had physically half pushed him and half dragged him to a nearby building which to his dazed brain appeared very much like a police station back on Earth.
Images of Scorpius and his Aurora Chair had made John’s stomach clench…that bastard had located Moya and now the leather clad freak was going to take a slow, delightful revenge on all of them for the destruction of his precious Gammak base. John actually had heaved and thrown up what little food had been in his stomach - fear and headache induced nausea too much to bear - under the unflinching stare of the local magistrate.
“Take his weapon, his coat and boots and throw this fekkik into the cell with the other prisoner. “ Had been the clipped orders of the man who was obviously in charge.
“What am I accused of? You do realise I am a member of an elite Peacekeeper unit, I expect an explanation immediately, I was minding my own business, doing some trading and these goons..”
Another hard slap at the back of the head had stopped him midsentence. He had rubbed the sore spot with one hand and after dropping the ridiculously silly PK accent he tended to put on every time he faked the part, a lot less boisterously and a lot more pleadingly he had bleated: “Why did you take me here and why are you putting me in a cell?”
Stony faces had met his questions and between rough shoves he had been made to undress almost to his underpants and not too ceremoniously had been dumped into a dank cell.
When his eyes had finally adjusted to the darkness of the small space and he had been able to make out the features of the other occupant of the tiny room, he had thought “Frell me! Colour me surprised!”
“Fluffy, what the hell is going on? Did Scorpius find us?” John had anxiously waited for an answer, which had not come.
“Hey Guido, answer me!”
On closer examination John had realised that Rygel also looked quite a bit banged up, one of his ears was clearly helplessly drooping, one of his eyes was swollen and his lower lip cracked and oozing a purplish/green coloured gunk, which John had assumed to be Hynerian blood. For a moment he had actually felt sorry for the little fellow, those bastards who had captured them were three times a fully grown Hynerian’s size, mistreating Rygel would be like using a child as a punch bag!
Rygel had finally looked up, his features expressing….John had not been too sure what! Hell, John had suddenly realised that reading Rygel’s facial expressions was hard when his ears were unable to do the talking…was that self-pity? Pain? Fear? He really couldn’t tell…he had crouched beside the small Dominar and gently laid one of his hands on his head : “Take those filthy appendages you call hands off of me!” Rygel had snapped attempting a supercilious tone but actually sounding quite ridiculous since the sounds had come out as “Tak dos fildy abbendages you call hadds ov ov me!” through his split lip.
John had felt like turning his instinctive gentle touch into a proper hard slap but had just about managed to restrain himself. Instead he had stepped away from him and in what he considered under the circumstances a really reasonable tone had given the irritating little pompous git an ultimatum: “Rygel, this is no joke, if you know- which I somehow suspect you do - why we have been imprisoned, you tell me now or I swear I will…”
The threat had been cut short by the door of the cell being flung open by one of their captors who by grunting just a few words but dispensing more pushes and slaps, had managed to handcuff them and herd them outside the cell, down through a long corridor and finally through a tall door into what clearly was a court of law of some sort.
Three serious looking men dressed in long flowing orange robes were sitting on a raised dais behind a high desk, clearly judges…no jury to be seen anywhere..which had made John tremble in his…well bare feet, since his boots had been taken.
After a long silence made heavy by the three sets of unwavering stares from the dais, the lead judge seated in the middle had finally stood up and clearly stated:
“This court has swiftly deliberated on both of your sentences. On his capture, during interrogation, the Hynerian named Rygel XVI quite willingly gave us the information that a fugitive of the ooman species, wanted by the Peacekeepers and named John Crichton was also on this planet.”
Hearing this John had sharply turned his head and disbelievingly looked at Rygel – the little traitorous slug had given him up without a fight, not only that, he had even told them about the Peacekeepers being hell bent on his capture! He had of course known that Rygel was not to be trusted but that he would actually go out of his way to get him captured, that was downright low, despicable…hurtful!
The head honcho judge had continued:
“We checked the various wanted beacons left on our planet by Peacekeeper units in the last couple of weekens and were able to establish that the information was indeed correct. John Crichton, the bounty offered for your capture is surprisingly hefty, which we assume means Peacekeeper High Command will be very grateful when we deliver them your head after your execution!”
With a disbelieving guffaw, John had spluttered “Hey, hold on, what execution? I did nothing to you people..and I can assure you that Scorpy wants my head alive!” Another slap from behind had stopped his protestations short.
As if no interruption had taken place, the judge had continued delivering his verdict: “The Hynerian prisoner has been found guilty of theft, which on a planet such as this, which survives thanks to honest commerce, is a capital crime. He will also be executed and his head displayed in the central market square of the town as deterrent to all other thieves!”
John had wanted to object at this point but was left quite speechless by the absurdity and enormity of the situation. One of his favourite movies had flashed through his mind and for a moment he had almost laughed out loud picturing himself as Chico Marx in “Duck Soup” objecting on the grounds that he couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“The executions will take place tomorrow morning. This court is adjourned!”
They had been escorted back to their cell, which is where we first found them.
BACK TO THE PRESENT
A couple more arns went by before John could actually bring himself to talk but, hell, if this was the end of the road he wanted to at least try and find out from Rygel what the frell had happened and why his head was about to be detached from his neck.
“So you stole something, I hope it was frelling worth both our lives, Dominar!” John stated with bitter sarcasm, his voice after such a long silence startling the Hynerian into a sudden bout of the intons.
The one undamaged ear on Rygel’s head drooped pathetically but no sound came out of his mouth other than loud hiccupping.
“Just tell me something, Rygel, why? Why would you give me up? Where you hoping to barter your miserable life for mine? Did you really think that they would let you away with a crime punishable by death just because you were prepared to betray me and hand me over to them?”
A small shake of the head showed that in spite of his silence Rygel had been paying attention.
“So why? Why would you do that and what was so desirable in your book that you felt was worth stealing at the penalty of both our lives? I think you at least owe me an explanation since tomorrow my head will lie on the ground side by side with your ugly one!”
John’s voice filled with hurt, anger and fear finally seemed to break through because in a small, surprisingly humble voice, Rygel finally whispered:
“I knew that none of you would have taken the risk of saving me once I was captured..you would have starburst away and left me here..I know none of you likes me, so I gave them your name and enticed them with the bounty the Peacekeepers have on your head. Aeryn will surely come looking for you and risk her life to save yours and so will D’Argo and Pilot and Moya will wait until the last possible microt before leaving all of you behind even if Peacekeeper vessels appear on the long range scans..” Rygel finally looked up at John “Do you really think they would do the same for me?”.
“Damn” John reluctantly thought “ the little piece of dren actually has an answer which makes some sort of sense in its own twisted selfish way!”
In spite of himself he actually started feeling sorry for the little green cockroach all over again…but hell if he was going to show it!
“And what did you steal that was worth all this?”
Rygel’s head bowed again, even lower than before and he muttered something under his breath, which came out totally unintelligible.
“Rygel!” John yelled “Grow some balls, man, and speak up!”
“MARJOULES!” Rygel shouted in reply “ I stole and ate some deliciously fat and juicy marjoules!”
John stunned into silence, thought “Perfect, just frelling perfect, our heads are going to roll because of marjoules….oh man, sometimes you just GOTTA have a sense of humour!” and to the utter surprise of the humbled Dominar he burst out laughing.